Games bosses climb list of UK’s wealthiest people
Most games entrepreneurs on Times Rich List saw wealth grow
The UK games industry’s wealthiest people have recorded strong scores in the latest Times Rich List, which was published on Sunday.
Almost two-thirds of the UK’s 1,000 richest people are estimated to have seen their wealth flatline or fall in the last year, mostly due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the wealth of the Rich List’s nine games industry entrepreneurs is said to have so far been unaffected.
Team 17 co-founder Debbie Bestwick, who appears for the first time in 2020’s List due to selling half her stake in the firm, told The Times that the company had been “fairly well insulated commercially” from the effects of the pandemic, due to high digital sales and a focus on small teams.
Another UK game studio founder, Frontier’s David Braben, is estimated to have grown his wealth by £50m in the past year, due to an increase in the value of his stake in the company.
The wealthiest person on the 2020 list whose earnings come from games is King co-founder Melvyn Morris CBE, with an estimated wealth of £500m (rank 267) and an increase of £15m since 2019. The Candy Crush Saga developer was acquired by Activision in 2016 for an estimated $5.9 billion.
Another King co-founder, Riccardo Zacconi, is next in the UK games industry wealth rankings at rank 320 and £410m, which is also an increase from last year (2019: £395m, 336 rank). Candy Crush Saga’s designer, Sebastian Knutsson, is at rank 540 with £230m: an increase of £65m and 191 rank positions.
Rockstar Games co-founders Sam and Dan Houser are at rank 418 in the Rich List with an estimated combined wealth of £310m, said to be partly thanks to them receiving “a big slice” of $583m royalties in 2018. The pair ranked 431 and £10m less in 2019.
4J Studios co-founders Paddy Burns and Chris Van Der Kuyl are estimated to have flatlined in the last year at a wealth of £150m each.
According to The Times, the combined wealth of the 1,000 richest people in the UK fell for the first time since the financial crash 11 years ago, down by almost 4% overall.
While some areas of business such as air travel have been hugely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the games industry has suffered less.
Gaming platforms have seen a significant rise in engagement in recent months, as many countries around the world advise their citizens to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Consumer spending on video game products reached the highest total in US history in the first quarter of 2020, according to a new report from The NPD Group.
The full methodology for the list can be found here.
The UK’s wealthiest games entrepreneurs
*Rank / Estimated wealth (2019 figures)
- Mel Morris, King co-founder – #267 / £515m (#268 /£500m)
- Riccardo Zacconi, CEO of King – #320 / £410m (#336 / £395m)
- Sam and Dan Houser, Rockstar co-founders – #418 / £310m (#431 / £300m)
- Neil Taylor, co-founder of GAME – #533 / £230m (#522 /£230m)
- Sebastian Knutsson, Candy Crush Saga designer – #540 / £225m (#731 / 160m)
- Debbie Bestwick, Team 17 co-founder – #638 / £196m (N/A)
- David Braben and Wendy Irvin-Braben, Frontier – #680 / £182m (#891 / £132m)
- Paddy Burns, 4J Studios co-founder – #805 / £150m (#787 / £150m)
- Chris Van Der Kuyl, 4J Studios co-founder – #805 / £150m (#787 / £150m)